Girls Soccer: Season ends for Guerin with regional loss
Guerin Prep's Melissa Tyler clears the ball away from Ridgewood's Kasia Pszczol,a during their regional championship game. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun Times Media
Updated: June 18, 2012 8:32AM
The Guerin girls soccer team had the home-field advantage, and confidence from beating its regional foe earlier this season, but those elements weren’t enough to secure the Gators’ first-ever regional title.
Guerin kept the game scoreless through halftime, but the Gators eventually succumbed to Ridgewood 3-0 on Saturday, ending their season in a regional final for the second straight year.
“Ridgewood is a solid team, starting with the goalie and going all the way up,” said Guerin head coach Antonio Donato. “We beat them the first time, but they dominated us (Saturday). They have almost no weaknesses at all, and I knew this. This is not the team we beat (earlier), and this time the free kicks were against us. If we can’t score, we can’t win.”
Guerin (6-12-2) survived Ridgewood early on. The Rebels hit the crossbar in the opening couple of minutes, and senior goalkeeper Olivia Binkowski made a couple of big saves.
Sophomore Mary Jo Toohey was set up by freshman Victoria Calderon, but Toohey’s shot didn’t cause Ridgewood goalkeeper Mallory McCormack much worry. A bit later, Toohey tried to capitalize after a little miscommunication in the Ridgewood defense, but McCormack covered up the mess. And Calderon counted a shot on goal with 5:25 left in the first half.
The Gators fell behind 1-0 when Ridgewood’s Michelle Ryczek, whom the Gators marked very tightly throughout, was able to win a race to a ball deep in the penalty area and flick in a shot past Binkowski from a tough angle.
“We had to play 150 percent and make no mistakes at all,” Donato said. “We had a game plan, and ended the first half 0-0. In the second half, we made one mistake, and gave it to No. 24 (Ryczek), and she scored. Malanie (Niepsuj) did an excellent job marking her, with Natalie (Ciecinski). We scouted (Ryczek), but she knows exactly what to do with the ball. We stopped her until the mistake — and the free kick.”
The goal sent the Gators into a more offensive mode as they looked for the equalizer. Donato took Binkowski out and replaced her with freshman Claudia Guerrero, while Binkowski went up front.
It wasn’t meant to be for Guerin, though, as Ridgewood kept possession and didn’t allow the Gators to do much. Ridgewood doubled the lead 10 minutes after the opening goal, and Ryczek finished the scoring with a free-kick goal in the final minute to end the Gators’ season.
Guerin earned its second straight trip to a regional final thanks to an 8-0 whitewash of Ogden International on May 8. The Gators scored all eight goals in the first half, with Binkowski netting three. Sophomore Natalie Torres tallied her first two goals of the year, while Toohey added two of her own. Junior Klaudia Perkowski also got on the scoresheet, notching her only goal of the campaign.
Binkowski, Niepsuj, and Joanna Nguyen leave the Gators after four years. Binkowski finished the year tied with Toohey for the team lead in goals (13), and may have scored more if not for playing a lot in goal.
Niepsuj notched three goals while playing a vital role in midfield covering opposing threats, and Nguyen gutted out a solid season depite enduring a couple of knocks to the head. She came back from that and managed to score her first varsity goal in the Gators’ 4-3 loss at Proviso West on May 5.
“It’s very sad to lose the seniors,” Donato said. “They’ve been excellent for four years, and I’ve had the pleasure of coaching them. I was hoping we could win for them, and that’s what I told the team, and they all played really hard. (Sophomore) Olivia Jucha did an excellent job at stopper. She was always at practice and gets no recognition. (Freshman) Alondra Rodriguez (4 goals) played very well, and (junior) Paulina Rodriguez (goal) was out (vs. Ridgewood), but she holds the ball, passes the ball and dribbles well. I also want to thank athletic director Dee Susin. We wanted to win for her, too, because she works so hard for us.”